Monday, 20 February 2012

A couple of what should be better known things about the world

#1 - By scientific definition, we're currently in an ice age, and have been for 2.58 million years. The definition for the Quaternary ice age we're currently in is that of an period of glacial and inter-glacial periods, what is popularly thought to be an ice age (I.e. 'dat thing dat ended a while back') is more precisely defined as a glacial period. We're currently in an inter-glacial period.

As a side point here as this is tangential to global warming. I have seen some misinformation here with regards to the thought that global warming might bring about another glacial period (for example, the film "The Day After Tomorrow" and the game "Battlefield 2142"). This misinformation is brought about by two things, the first being a Western-centric attitude that then ties into the second thing; the theory that global warming might stop the Gulf Stream that warms many Atlantic areas and would make things a bit nippy on the eastern coast of the USA and in the UK. However, that theory is garbage. Global warming would do what it says on the tin; make shit warm. With regards to glacial periods and ice ages, the only possible effect it might have would be to bring us out of an ice age or delay the next glacial period. Rising sea level and desertification are very real however. I love it when side points are longer than the initial point.

#2 - Despite environmental groups' alarm at the current rate of extinction, we are not (yet) in a major extinction event, but have been in a minor extinction event since the point of Homo Sapiens behavioural modernity 50,000 years ago. We are still a long, long way away from the largest extinction event of the transition between the Permian and Triassic epochs 250 million years ago, in which 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial species. There's still time however.

The Permian-Triassic extinction event then brought us the ubiquity of dinosaurs. So maybe if there's a Holocene extinction event, perhaps it might lead the way for 20 metre tall, giant, bipedal house cats dominate the world, wouldn't that be adorable?

Side point to both points. Both involve a popular issue, however, it is not my intent to demean either issue, but I would like to point out the potential/ existing elements in sensationalism in both points. Misinformation (which is synonymous with sensationalism) about issues only serves to generate confusion, this confusion can then be pointed at by people looking for an excuse to avoid the issue and generate controversy that side track efforts to solve them.

I principally used Wikipedia as a source for this stuff, so to read more, search things like 'Ice Age', 'Glacial Period', 'Quaternary Period', and 'Extinction Event', 'Permian-Triassic Extinction'.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic. I don't get it.

My criticism of WoW has always been that it's the gaming equivalent of a package holiday to Benidorm; you'll be having a good time but then suddenly you'll look around and realise that your experience isn't unique in the slightest. You've gone there to escape from your monotone, mediocre office job only to then realise that your holiday represents the same thing.

From what I've heard, SW:TOR is the same thing but takes it to a new extreme. Ontop of being a WoW-clone, each class actually has a single-player style story. The difference in single-player stories however is that you're not constantly reminded that thousands or millions of people are playing the exact same story as you (unless you go and look at the forums), and so it does give you a feeling of doing something different and having your own experience. But translating this into an MMO environment, surely it would be easy to look around and see people having the exact same experience as you doing the exact same story. I mean, it's no longer the case of knowing there's someone out there with the exact same class build and set of gear, but now also knowing that they're proceeded from a story that's narrated as being unique and special in that it's happening to you but all you need to do is metaphorically look to your side to see countless people doing the exact same thing. I mean it's even happening in the same instance of the fictional universe, that goes as far away as a persistent MMO as is actually possible. Listening to stories in the Cantina must be so fucking boring unless you like saying "hey! That exact same thing happened to me!"

[Obligatory closing message about Bioware being dead]

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Jesus should be posthumously tried for crimes against humanity.

The last post wasn't inane enough, this is to rectify this I'm putting this forward without any explanation. Maybe I'll explain later, but not now, okay?

Of course, the obsurdity of this statement detracts from the objectivity of my last post which was also religiously related, but since I'm aware of that it's not so bad right? Right?

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

It's dumb to directly argue atheism against Christianity

My title is not referencing the nature of religious debate being as futile as efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although it is a valid point, in that when you have two sides so diametrically opposed, debate often serves to simply make both sides more extreme in response.

Rather, I seek to point out that atheism and Christianity are not binary opposites and so should not be placed against each other as such. The reason why they are likely results from an increasing cultural divide with people defining themselves as atheist and people defining themselves as Christians on opposing sides. Due to the philosophical nature of it, many arguments between these two sides do try to remain based in philosophy. However if it continues down this path, it may soon visibly lapse into something as visibly futile as two people from different nations arguing that their own nation is better.

If we are to try to detract this debate away from a cultural grounding (which is difficult, maybe even paradoxical considering Christianity is a culture) and move it back to philosophical consideration then it needs to be kept logical and not sensationalised. To achieve this, atheism cannot simply be pitted directly against Christianity, as they are not diametrically opposed, if you are not an atheist that doesn't mean you are a Christian and vice versa. If you're not an atheist, you would be a theist, and if you're not a Christian, you may be an atheist, but you may instead be a theist or part of a theistic religion. As such, philosophically, atheism should be argued against theism, and theism should be argued against Christianity. While the latter is not a diametrical argument either, it is still reasonable to argue (as shall be explained).

Let's consider this point here with a hypothetical argument between an atheist someone who believes in Christianity.

Christian: "How can you explain the creation of the universe?"
Atheist: "How can you justify that Christianity is the one true religion?"

Rather than roleplaying out a futile debate, let's consider two different outcomes of it. The atheist stutters going "errm, well the big bang, ah, well I'm not a physicist..." and the Christian goes "Ah-hah! You can't explain it! Thus atheism is wrong!", let's humour this and say he's correct, does this mean Christianity is then proven? Of course not, if they universe was created by something, why would it have to be the Christian god?

In response to his question, the Christian spoutes the first quote that comes to mind, which is completely unrelated and fails to address the atheist's point, the atheist assumes victory, he's disproven Christianity! But what does this mean? Does it mean there is no omnipotent being? What if there is and it is just not a known entity or it's some bipedal cat? Or.

Here is the element of my point, disproving one does not prove the other. So when translated into real world belief it, uhm, I guess it just gets all gooey. However, if we add the step I mentioned above, instead of goo we get... pudding? Yeah, why not. Pudding.

Okay, let's put this into action!
Round 1: Christianity versus Theism!
[Fight!] [Auto-resolve] [Retreat!]

Winner: Theism!

Round 2: Theism versus Atheism!
[Fight!] [Auto-resolve] [Retreat!]

Stalemate! But no one minds because no one's going to kill themselves over agnosticism! Pudding for all!

See? It works!

Closing thoughts: You may have noticed (or maybe not and I'm jumping the gun), but I typically did not start the word atheism with a capital letter in this post as I did with Christianity. Hopefully not, but possibly you might have drawn offence at this, blurting at your computer: "I'm an Atheist! With a big A!" If you did, please think very carefully about that as you may be seeking to identify atheism as a culture just like religion is. Cultures are often intolerant, as seen easily in religion. If atheism becomes a culture rather than belief, and if the smoke settles with atheism being ontop it then establishes itself as culture rather than a lack of religious culture then perhaps we wouldn't have have gone so far...

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Cause of Homosexuality

Here are my thoughts on the cause of homosexuality. Despite being one myself, I only got asked about this the just the other day, so I had a thought. In the past I had avoided thinking about it in detail because what we often hear about the issue is "environmental causes versus genetic causes" which both superficially do not provide a convincing answer.

However, as soon as I was pressed to actually share my opinion on it, the answer was obvious. First of all to get this point out of the way, it's not a choice. In fact, considering the environmental influence element of this, it could be possible to be influenced towards homosexuality by environmental factors, especially cultural factors. But this still entails as little conscious choice as genetic factors, as can be demonstrated by comparing it to another entity that is environmentally and culturally influenced. That being accent, we gain our accent from listening to those around us so it is an environmental factor, yet most of us do not get to choose our accent. This comparison can go further than this though, so let's consider this in more detail.

While accent is copied from the immediate environment (using annecdotal evidence I'd say more immediate than some would think, as I did not have a very outgoing childhood and despite living most my life in the North of England, I sound more like my well-spoken Southern sounding parents than I do Northern), I do not believe the same can be said for homosexuality, as in, I do not think a homosexual couple that has adopted a child would necessarily influence homosexuality in the child. It is no where near as simple as that, as this child would also be exposed to cultural opinions which may encourage or discourage homosexuality. It's hard to compare due to lack of exact figures, but homosexual relationships/ dealings likely would have been far more prevalent in Ancient Greek and Roman cultures than they are today due to different cultural outlooks. Also from the little I've read, I've heard that sexuality can be influenced by the exotic becoming erotic, so if an individual was constantly in proximity to homosexual influences, they could become desensitised to it and it would thus possibly become uninteresting.

Some individuals can also conscious change their accents during their life. I do not believe the same to be true for homosexuality, so to me this shows that homosexuality cannot purely be caused by environmental influences. That regardless of environmental and cultural background, some if not most individuals are going to be homosexual or heterosexual (or any other sexuality). This neatly brings us to look at genetic and physiological factors.

I do not believe there is a "gay gene", it doesn't make sense, not only would be it counter to evolution, it would also support binary sexuality (and contrary to popular belief, sexuality is far from binary). Instead I believe it's slightly more complicated, and for the answer we have to look at the brain, which of course we still know very little about. My guess is that there's two factors involved, the first being that there are elements of brain development beyond observable genetic and environmental factors; unfortunately I'm not an expert on brain development to be able to know if this happens, but it sounds reasonable to me and it would also explain apparent ambiguities in twin studies. The second is, rather than a "gay gene" there are "gay genes", as in a number of possibly fairly common genes combine to have a "ghost in the machine" effect, in that they have an influence that on their own no single gene would have and the variation in these genes might influence the individual's place on the sexuality spectrum. The genes individually being common would also explain how they have not been eliminated by evolution. Unfortunately I'm not an expert on genetics either, in fact I pretty much failed biology.

That's all I've got on this for now. Hopefully that's okay for a first post, although it's likely it's been said before.

Introducing the Introduction

Greetings and welcome,

This is my blog for posting my interesting, hopefully different or at least amusing ideas and theories. They will most likely be poorly researched and depictive of someone underqualified. This is because I am underqualified and I like to form my theories from the ground up, limiting cultural bias/ influence in the hope of increasing rationality. This is not to say all my ideas and theories will be unique, it is rather hard to come up with something unique on a planet with 7 billion brains (even if most of them aren't working). The most I can hope is that when my ideas and theories do mimic someone elses, that I would have thought of it independently rather than have copied it, or if I were to be heavily influenced by it I would at least give credit where credit is due.

The subject matter will likely be broad, the main topics likely being space, future development, political theory, social and cultural theory (which also has a good amount of religious theory overlap). Topics may or may not be serious, as I will generally post things I think interesting; for example a theory may be interesting but not necessary practical. Maybe occasionally there will be a slightly more personal post, such as something on my mind or something hobby related (likely gaming).

Hopefully this will not be my only post, and hopefully if it isn't I shall not regret it not being so.

- Risq